Federal court orders FEMA to reconsider denial of home repairs to Hurricane Dolly survivors

Good news for the low income Hurricane Dolly survivors who were denied home repairs by FEMA!

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Brownsville Division issued a ruling on August 6 in the case of La Union del Pueblo Entero v. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Plaintiffs brought suit in response to FEMA’s denial of rehabilitation assistance to numerous low income families in the Texas Rio Grande Valley in the wake of Hurricane Dolly. FEMA inspectors denied many claims for assistance citing the substandard condition of the house before the hurricane. The plaintiffs pointed out that FEMA had never issued criteria, standards and procedures to determine by which eligibility would be determined for FEMA benefits.

FEMA’s action was especially outrageous because the agency denied government assistance to low income families simply because they were too poor to afford and to maintain a standard house.

The Court ordered that “FEMA shall issue Rules and Regulations that outline definite and ascertainable criteria, standards, and procedures for determining eligibility for relief assistance beyond which is identified by federal law in compliance with the congressional mandate found in 42 U.S.C. § 51740).”

The Court issued a preliminary injunction in the case on August 6 ordering FEMA to:

  1. publish definite and ascertainable criteria, standards, and procedures for determining eligibility for relief assistance beyond which is identified by federal law in compliance with the congressional mandate found in 42 U.S.C. § 51740); and
  2. reconsider Plaintiffs’ applications for housing relief assistance for damage from Hurricane Dolly, Disaster No. 1780, using the ascertainable criteria, standards, and procedures for determining eligibility for relief assistance published in compliance with paragraph 1.
  3. within sixty (60) days of entry of this Order, file a proposed plan by which FEMA will comply with this Order, including what specific actions it plans and its proposed dates for completing each action.

The court also gave the plaintiffs twenty days to respond to FEMA’s proposed plan with any objections.

It has been a long time coming but it looks like justice is coming to Texas hurricane survivors at last.